Sunday, January 4, 2009

San Marcos de Apalache - Conclusion


When the Union forces retreated from the Battle of Natural Bridge, they in essence admitted that Tallahassee and St. Marks would remain in Confederate hands until the end of the war. The end, of course, was approaching fast.

When the fighting ended two months later, St. Marks held the unique status of being one of the last coastal ports still in Confederate hands. Fort Ward at San Marcos was the last unconquered Confederate coastal fort in a large area of the South and the only one in Florida.

The fort was handed over to Union officers following the end of the war, along with the gunboat C.S.S. Spray, a large supply of supplies and artillery, small arms and other military hardware.

The end of the Civil War marked the end of the military importance of San Marcos de Apalache. The fort was never again occupied by military forces and passed into the pages of history. By the 1960s it was completely overgrown and the large mound covering the Confederate magazine was mistaken even by professional archaeologists for an Indian mound.

During the 1970s, however, the historical importance of San Marcos de Apalache was recognized and the site was cleared of underbrush and developed as a historical state park. A museum on the grounds interprets the hundreds of years of military history at the site.

The site is now threatened from a different cause. After three decades of operation and dramatic increases in the state budget (Florida has doubled its budget in just the last ten years), the state of Florida no longer things the site important enough to keep open as a state park. San Marcos de Apalache is on the list of sites facing temporary or permanent closure due to budget overruns.

As an editorial aside, it strikes me as very odd that the state can double its budget and yet no longer have the money necessary to keep its significant historic sites open to the public. The budget cuts proposed this year are significant, but still leave the state with far more money than it had just 10 years ago when it had no problem operating its various state parks and historic sites.

If you agree with me that San Marcos de Apalache is an important historic site that should remain open to the people of Florida, please call or write your local state representative and senator. You can also write Governor Charlie Crist at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com or by mail at:

Office of Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

As always, you can learn more about San Marcos de Apalache any time by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/sanmarcos1.


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